Best Food Dehydrators Reviewed & Tested

Drying food is a way to preserve it to use for longer periods of time. It’s a beneficial method that also retains the bulk of the nutrients that make it healthy. With the water drained from the product, it stops the growth of harmful germs, bacteria, yeast and mold. Campers use this method a lot when they will be out for a while and don’t want to bring traditional food.

Food dehydrators have also become popular for making healthy snacks for kids and adults. With the nutrients kept intact, eating them will actually boost energy levels and promote healthy appetite. There is nothing complex about using them, and the few customization options available are not as robust as a microwave. A food dehydrator has one function, and that is to dry food. The customization option you’ll deal with is changing the temperature.

Our Top 3 Picks

Nesco FD-75A
  • Nesco FD-75A
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Adjustable
  • Price: See Here
Hamilton Beach 32100A
  • Hamilton Beach 32100A
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 48 hour timer
  • Price: See Here
Presto 06301
  • Presto 06301
  • 4.2 out of 5
    Our rating
  • No Rotation
  • Price: See Here

Best Brands

When it comes to the best food dehydrators, the best and most recognizable brand is Hamilton Beach, even though they were late to the game when it came to food dehydration. A lot of customers may have questions that aren’t answered in the manual, which is why the solid support from Hamilton Beach needs to be mentioned. They have a great staff that gets things done, and most of all they get results when needed. If you’re looking at brands specifically based off of the ranking of products, then Nesco is on the list more than once for a reason. They seem to have a handle on how the dehydration process is most effective, with their machines offering the most accurate results when running. Since some recipes are depending heavily on the machine to get the temperature correct, choosing a bad food dehydrator will give mixed results.

Maintenance and Cleaning Tips

A food dehydrator is easy to clean because the trays are removable and are usually dishwasher safe. Cleaning the inside of the unit once it is bare is another story, and you should be extra careful about introducing any strange chemicals to the inside of the machine. Unless you made a complete mess, warm water and a damp towel is all that is needed to clean the base of the unit.

If you use any cleaning solution that leaves behind a smell, then the next time you use the machine it may make your food taste and smell like the solution. Never, under any circumstance use bleach in the machine. And of course always practice safety when operating it for long periods of time. Some models are equipped with a timer, while others aren’t.

10 Best Food Dehydrators

 

1. Nesco FD-75A

In the #1 spot and barely beating out Hamilton Beach is the Nesco FD-75A. This is an incredibly popular model among the hardcore food preservers. It does everything right, and avoids tying itself to common equipment gimmicks.

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The Placement Of The Fan Changed Things

Rather than putting their fan on the bottom like traditional models, they put it on top. Powered by a beastly 700 watts, it dries faster, better and more thorough than any other product on the list.

Features and Specifications

Adjustable thermostat (95-160F)
5 drying trays that are expandable to 12

Price/Value

Even with it being the top product, it’s also one of the lowest priced available. This makes it even more valuable than it already is, and a prime target for beginners that want to try out food dehydration.

Decision Time

Nesco put everything they had in this model, and it shows. Even without the timer, the FD-75A is a premiere kitchen appliance to own.
Pros
  • Blocks out harmful light using its opaque exterior
  • Comes with 52 page recipe book, 2 fruit roll sheets and 3 jerky spice packets
Cons
  • No timer

2. Hamilton Beach 32100A

Hamilton Beach is one of the most well-known kitchen appliance brands in the industry, and can be found in major retail outlets. Customers that are looking for a top three product in multiple kitchen categories will always find Hamilton Beach included in the list.

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Customer Service

The brand recognition helps out a lot in this department, leading any confused customer to have faith in dealing with their customer support line. That lifeline makes a difference between keeping a product and sending it back.

Features and Specifications

48 hour timer with auto shutoff
500 watts of power to dry five stackable trays

Price/Value

Like all Hamilton Beach products, the price is middle of the road. With only five trays total, the value will come from groups that don’t need bulk amounts done at one time.

Decision Time

Hamilton Beach is such a trusted brand that it’s hard not to imagine them in the top spot. For most consumers, this will be a safe buy that gives you years of hard work.
Pros
  • Comes with materials for making herbs and fruit rolls
  • Even when drying the airflow is continuous
Cons
  • Only has five trays

3. Presto 06301

Presto comes in at #3 with the model that made hundreds of customers around the world happy. It added advanced features to an already excellent system, and may have inspired some of the other modern designs in the food dehydration industry.

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No Rotation Design

With the way they set up the bottom fan, you won’t have to worry about heavy maintenance. It provides consistent air flow and the best drying temperatures.

Features and Specifications

Six tray system with digital thermostat
Included six trays can be expanded to twelve

Price/Value

You’re not going to spend a lot of money for this low priced product, an amazing feat since it has such great modern features. The value is solely in the hands of the user and how quickly they adapt to Presto’s system.

Decision Time

Cookers that have complex dehydration techniques will get some serious use out of this model. The price is low, and it is one of the best on the list.
Pros
  • Great air flow that dries food quicker
  • Can dry using temperatures up to 165F
Cons
  • Advanced functions takes some getting used to

4. Gourmia GFD1650B

Another big food dehydrator on the list is the Gourmia GFD1650B, which is the size of a toaster oven. With all the power dedicated to this one unit, customers are sure to get the results the want at a respectable time.

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Informative LCD Panel

A lot of the products in the industry stay away from giving the user heavy customization or information options with food dehydrator products. In this case, the GFD1650B is in a class of its own with 8 preset temperature settings and a countdown timer LCD panel.

Features and Specifications

6 adjustable shelves or 9 if you choose the bigger model
Available in black or white

Price/Value

The price is about average, and the value is off the charts. You’ll have very few food dehydrators with this many customization features out of the box.

Decision Time

Buyers that are going to use the digital features of this model will get the most use out of it. Even with the timer cap, there are thousands of useful recipes available to use.
Pros
  • Powered by 400 watts and can heat up to 158F
  • Digital thermostat is both informative and user friendly in design
Cons
  • Timer is capped at a max of 19 hours 30 minutes

5. Nesco FD-61WHC

Calling the FD-61WHC Snackmaster an all in one unit fits perfectly, with many of its features turning out to be unique to the model. They have already patented several of these features, and this could be the next big thing in the industry.

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Revolutionary Time Saver

Their flow drying system is patented and dries food in a couple of hours rather than days. This puts it ahead of a lot of the major food dehydrators in the industry, with a design that will only improve over time.

Features and Specifications

Five dishwasher safe trays
Adjustable thermostat powered by a 500 watt fan

Price/Value

Priced to move, it is so low that there are only a couple of products that can match it in the same range. With all of the extras, the FD-61WHC is a premiere kitchen accessory to own.

Decision Time

The jerky and fruit roll up set alone is worth purchasing the system for. With some minor adjustments to the control scheme, this could have easily been the #1 product on the list.
Pros
  • Comes with a jerky gun, 5 jerky spices/cures and 3 tips
  • Also comes with more extras, including 2 clean a screens, 2 fruit roll sheets and a thorough recipe book
Cons
  • No timer or on/off switch

6. Ronco FD1005WHGEN

This 5 tray model by Ronco is a low maintenance food dehydrator, just like most of the others on the list. As uncomplicated as it can be, the biggest draw is how it preps new users with using it.

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A Great Start

If you’ve never used one of these appliances before, then the recipe book and manual that comes packaged will be a breath of fresh air. It’s the perfect start for beginners and may even have some tips in it for intermediate users.

Features and Specifications

5 tray system with optional round fruit leather trays
2 adjustable vent lids

Price/Value

Customers will not shell out a lot of money in order to own this product, since it is in the low price range. Buying the optional components will increase the value tenfold.

Decision Time

This is the most beginner friendly model on the list, and buying the optional extras for it makes the deal even better. Don’t miss out on what could be the best appliance in your home.
Pros
  • Large but quiet
  • Has the best manual out of all the products on the list
Cons
  • Round fruit leather trays available only as a separate purchase

7. Excalibur 3926TB

Known around the industry as one of the best food dehydrator that residential users can buy, the Excalibur 3926tb continues to impress. It has an impressive set of features, many which are still ahead of its time.

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Adjustable Thermostat

The set it and forget it products on this list are great, but they are also limited in what they can do with certain types of food. The 3926TB does away with that issue by introducing a thermostat that can be set from 102 – 165F.

Features and Specifications

600 watts going to a 7 inch fan
26 hour timer with built in on/off switch

Price/Value

This product would be further up the list if it wasn’t for the price, which is high. Buyers that use their food dehydrators multiple times a week will get some great value out of the box with this deal.

Decision Time

By itself this unit could feed an entire family, and is a real powerhouse with any type of food. When price isn’t a consideration, this is the absolute best food dehydrator you can get.
Pros
  • Built like an industrial food dehydrator
  • Great customizing options lets you go beyond a normal food dehydrator
Cons
  • One of the most expensive on the list

8. Magic Mill MFD-6100

The Magic Mill Pro is the first food dehydrator on the list that takes on much bigger portions. It’s also the first one to offer customization options with how you set the food.

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Two Model Choices

You have a choice between the 6 SS Trays or the larger 9 SS Trays. Same product, but with a much more intuitive design choice for smaller or larger kitchens.

Features and Specifications

Automatic shut off from timer
400-450 watts with a 1 year warranty

Price/Value

As long as you’re not buying this to put a lot of meat in it, then there is tremendous value. It’s average priced, and should be accessible in both versions.

Decision Time

You’re getting a good deal no matter which version you purchase, with each size having a specific consumer in mind. The price is just right to bring spark some debate about its place on the list.
Pros
  • Drip tray keeps residue off of food and counter
  • Comes with high quality oven mitts
Cons
  • The way it handles meat is average

9. La Mieux

This isn’t your run of the mill food dehydrator, with this La Mieux model really sneaking onto the list as a big value. It works fast, has the same simplicity of the NutriChef, but also introduces some new ideas.

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Retains A High Level Of Nutrients

Your food will keep up to 97% of their vitamins and minerals during the preservation process. That’s a large number for anyone that plans on doing this with fruits or vegetables.

Features and Specifications

Keeps a maximum temperature of 180F
5 tiers of stackable trays

Price/Value

They kept it low for this model, which makes it instantly competitive with more than half of the other products on this list. Since there are few moving parts, you won’t have to worry about calling in your warranty after years of use.

Decision Time

Even though it is still early in the list, La Mieux really did a good job with this food dehydrator. It’s one of the best, and will continue to provide competition for a long time.
Pros
  • Easy one button functionality
  • Air flow is enhanced and dehydrates evenly
Cons
  • Manual doesn’t go into enough detail on what the unit can do

10. NutriChef PKFD14BK

The NutriChef is one of the most well-known pieces of equipment in the industry when it comes to preserving food. It manages to preserve and dehydrate with some of the easiest settings possible.

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User Friendly Out Of The Box

The NutriChefis a set it and forget it device with very little customization. Taking a few minutes to read the directions will give you the information needed to get started.

Features and Specifications

Stackable 5 tier trays
Available in black or white

Price/Value

Buyers will appreciate the low price of what could be considered a starter food dehydrator. It’s everything you need to prepare your food correctly.

Decision Time

This is the easiest product on the list to use, which is great for beginners. Convenience wins it a spot on the list, with a lot of appreciation for its simplicity.
Pros
  • Foolproof method for food dehydration or preservation
  • Stackable trays and space saving heating element makes it perfect for small kitchens
Cons
  • No advanced features
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Criteria for Evaluation

With so many products in the market, it is understandable when many people find it difficult to arrive at a decision on which one is the best. Every manufacturer will do whatever they can to entice you, as the buyer, into thinking that their product is the right one for your needs. We have made your job slightly easier by doing the work of painstakingly scrawling through the market to separate the good from the bad. But how did we arrive at the best ten food dehydrators currently in the market?

dehydrating food

We used a multipronged approach which involves employing different techniques such as looking through user reviews, visiting trusted websites, reading manufacturer manuals, comparing pros and cons, looking at the features of each product, checking prices from different retailers.

The reason why we take the process of evaluating these products seriously is that we understand that during this day and age of buying online, most of our readers trust our word before they make a purchase. Even though you can always return a product after buying it if you don’t like it, we know that this could be a painstaking process that can leave you frustrated. Hence, we want your decision to be based on as much information as possible.

Price

We always say that price should never be the only criteria used to evaluate a product. However, we believe that price is the best area where someone doing a comparison should start. It wouldn’t make sense to compare two products that belong to two different price ranges. We always expect products that are more expensive to provide better value than these that are less expensive. However, this does not mean that more affordable products are not good.

We always start by placing products into different price ranges. Once we have done this grouping, we look at the extras that each product can offer. Products in the lower price range that have more features than others then make it into the list. We also do the same with products in the upper price range. If the product is expensive but doesn’t provide much value, we remove it from the list.

Ease of Use

You will mostly notice that food dehydrators are generally easy to use and there is really not that much difference between the various models on the market when it comes to how easy to use their products are. However, there are still a few things that separate one food dehydrator from the other: cooking the food evenly without you having to keep watching and switching the selves around. It must provide convenience.

Cleaning a food dehydrator should be an easy process too. How do we know if one model is easier to clean when compared to another? We look at the number of parts the product has. If more pieces can easily be washed in the dishwasher, it means that the owner will enjoy some convenience.

Extra Features

In order to determine the convenience a user will enjoy, we look at the extra features a food dehydrator has when we create our list. Extra features usually mean more convenience, which is part of the value and can be used to differentiate products falling within the same price range. The extra features also determine how easy it will be to operate the dehydrator.

food processing

For a food dehydrator, controlling the temperature is one of the most important features. So, in order to achieve the best results, it will be important for you to be able to adjust the temperature. If a dehydrator has an adjustable thermostat it is a good product for drying more than one type of food.

We also checked out if the food dehydrator has a timer. Food dehydration is a process that takes many hours, so it is easy to forget. When the dehydrator has a timer, you don’t need to remain apprehensive, it will tell you when you need to check the food or when it is ready.

Another feature we looked at when listing the top ten was whether the food dehydrator has an auto shut off mechanism. This is a feature which allows you to start the process of drying your food and then go do your other stuff or even go to sleep overnight knowing that when the food is ready, the machine will shut itself off.

Pros and Cons

We always look at the products we review objectively. This means identifying the pros and cons. As you can see with all the food dehydrators we have on this list, none of them has more cons than pros. If we discover that a product’s cons outweigh the pros, we remove it from our list as we are sure no one wants to use a food dehydrator that has more things that are wrong than those that are right.

When we look at the pros and cons we look at such issues as the quality of the user manual and the amount of detail it provides, the quality of drip trays, how easy the options are for customisation, the amount of noise the dehydrator makes relative to its size, and the extras that the products come with which you don’t have to buy separately.

User Reviews

user reviews

We know that people would rather believe the experiences of other users than they would advertisements from the brands themselves. To this end, we look at trusted sites such as those managed by big retailers like Amazon. The advantage of such sites is that they only allow verified users to post reviews.
Apart from the sites of big users we also look at the sites owned by the manufacturers so that we can compare what the promise is against what the customers are saying they are getting. If there is consistency between the two, then the product goes higher on our list. We also look for those products that consistently get high ratings on different trusted review sites on the internet.

How to Use a Food Dehydrator: Best Tips

Whether you have just bought a food dehydrator, have had one for ages or are contemplating buying one, you should know it’s one of the most useful appliances out there. As you would know, in order to get the best out of any appliance, or product for that matter, you need not only to know how to use it but also a few more tips and tricks that other people don’t know. In this article, we give some advice on how to use a food dehydrator and offer some cool tips.

how does a food dehydrator work

The advantage of dehydrating your food is that you can save excess and you don’t need to go to the shops too often, especially if you leave in an area that is far from the shops. It also means you can enjoy foods way past their seasons. Dehydrating is not necessarily an exact science; however, there are some tricks that can make the process more fun and effective.

The types of food you can dry in a food dehydrator include fruits, meats, and vegetables among other foods. The main reason why you want to use a food dehydrator is to that the food doesn’t spoil as fast as it would if it had lots of water. This also ensures that the bacteria that would otherwise have been growing in the food is topped in its tracks. The food also returns most of its nutrients.

Read the instructions

This may sound obvious but you will not believe the number of people who throw away the owner’s manual as soon as their new food dehydrator arrives. Reading an owner’s manual may not be the most interesting activity you want to do but we can promise you that there is lots to learn about your new utensil in that little booklet.

The manual tells you how best you should use your appliance so that you can preserve it. Not only that, if the appliance has a warranty, you don’t want to discover that you have done something that would void the warranty and if something was to go wrong with your food dehydrator you would then have to pump out some money to buy a new one.

Food needs to be prepared

For someone new to using the food dehydrator, it’s easy to think that all you need is to place the food inside and wait for it to dry. This is not the case, as different foods will need to be prepared before they can be dehydrated. This is another reason why you should keep the operator manual as it will tell you how to prepare different foods before you put them into the dehydrator. For instance, you will discover that some vegetables may need to be dipped in something else to enhance the flavor.

Be patient

dehydrating food

Using a food dehydrator needs patience. It’s easy to think that turning the temperature up as high as possible will help your food to dry faster if you are in a hurry. What this will simply do is that it will create a dry layer on the outside of whatever it is that you are dehydrating and leave the moisture in. That inner moisture will be where the food will start rotting once you store it.

Cool the food before storing

One of the most important tricks is to ensure that your food is cool before you store. Once the food has cooled, for best results, store it in an airtight container so that it doesn’t regain some of the moisture you have just removed. Some foods like meat can still be frozen once dehydrated so that they don’t go bad in storage.

FAQ

Can you ‘over dry” food?

Yes, and it is more common than you think. The one button push crockpots are built to keep this from happening, but even after long periods it is inevitable. Food that’s over done can quickly turn into free treats for the family pet. Food dehydrators with built in timers would make sense in this case, but some of them can be limiting. Always check your recipe with the top features of the device you’re purchasing. There is no point in purchasing one with a timer if its limit is 20 hours but your recipe calls for double that.

How beginner friendly is it?

Food preservation is really simple, which is why the one button models are so popular. You don’t need to read a history book to understand how to dry food properly. Just a little bit of light reading with the included instructions should give you all the information you need to get started. Low maintenance is one of the biggest reasons to own a food dehydrator. There are thousands of recipes available for free, and the only thing you have to worry about getting right is the time and temperature.

Why does _____ come out bad?

No one is going to become a food dehydrator master overnight, and inevitably there will be a small learning curve. Even the one button systems have rules to follow, so when in doubt, always read the manual. A lot of the listed models come with their own cookbooks. But be wary of temperature requirements for custom recipes, and always adjust when you feel it’s necessary. The only way to perfect your new appliance is by taking it out for a spin.

Are the trays really dishwasher safe?

Most are, but always check the full feature list. Putting a tray in there that wasn’t built for dishwashing cycles could warp it to the point of uselessness. Replacement trays are easy enough to find, but a pain since it usually sidelines your entire food dehydrator until it’s replaced. If possible, always have backup trays in your home for emergency use.

What are the best foods to dehydrate?

You can dehydrate a host of foods including meat, vegetables, and fruits. Some foods like fruits may need to be soaked in a solution such as water with lemon juice to reduce bacteria and also keep the color. Also, bleach vegetables for short periods of time before dehydrating them to ensure that they do not lose their color. It also helps get rid of illnesses that are food borne.

How much does a food dehydrator cost in terms of electricity?

As an appliance that keeps on for long periods of time, it is easy for people to be worried that it may be using lots of power. You can calculate how much your food dehydrator is using by taking the wattage of your dehydrator and multiplying it by the hours it takes to dry your food and then multiply this answer by the cost of a Kilowatt-hour in the area where you live. Practically, if your food dehydrator runs on 500 watts and you need 10 hours to dry your food in an area where a kWh costs 10 cents you can calculate the power you use in the following manner: (500 watts x 10 hours)/ 1000 = 5kWh and then 5 x $0.10= $0.50.

What safety tips should I follow when using one?

Most food dehydrators use electricity and you need to take the kind of precautions you do when using any electrical appliance. Ensure that the food dehydrator is used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Never handle the plugs with wet hands. If the appliance is not working properly, don’t try to repair it yourself unless you are a qualified artisan. Also, ensure that the food dehydrator is clean before using it to ensure there is no food contamination.

Why do I need to clean the food dehydrator?

Food can easily get trapped in your dehydrator. Also, some foods have a lingering smell, ensuring that the appliance is clean will help remove this smell so that future batches will not be impacted on. Keeping it clean will also ensure that you get rid of the drippings that happen while the food dries ensuring that your appliance is working for a longer time.

At what temperature do you dehydrate raw food?

The idea when you are dehydrating food is that you are not cooking it. Different foods can be dehydrated at different temperatures. Check out the instructions which come with your food dehydrator. However, most foods will dry at about 130 °F, or 54 °C. Meat normally requires higher temperatures to remove pathogens.

What’s the difference between a solar food dehydrator and drying in the sun?

The difference is that your solar food dehydrator will dry your food much faster. Also, it can control the temperature and keep the food protected while it is drying. The advantage of this method is that you can use it in places where you don’t have access to electricity, and above all, it is environmentally friendly as the power that drives it does not produce any greenhouse gases when being generated.

This would be a great appliance for someone who lives in countries where there are lots of possibilities to grow food but no electricity to run appliances like a food dehydrator. It will ensure that the food doesn’t dry in the open where it can gather dust.

How To Make The Best Decision

This is quite simple if you look at it from three steps. The purchase will go a lot smoother if you can answer the following questions.

Is it big enough? – There are small food dehydrators on the list, and there are also large ones. Some of the mid-sized models allow for expansion beyond the initial trays included. It’s always better to go one size bigger than what you want, since you can always cook less in a big unit, but you can’t cook more in a small one. Get a big enough model for what you think it will be used for, that way you’ll never have to question the original purchase.

Do I need a timer? – This will cause the biggest confusion for anyone using a food dehydrator. Timers are standard on many things now, even cell phones. And it’s very rare that you see a modern stove without a timer. Look close enough, and you’ll notice that crockpots now have the very same thing, including temperature readouts. What may be a killer feature to some users will be completely useless to others. Find out where you fit in with this question, since it’s one of the most asked. You can always use a timer from somewhere else, but doing so breaks up the flow.

Where will this be used? – Now this is considered one of the most overlooked questions. Buyers that are going to bring this to a campsite should be careful about purchasing full sized models. The smaller models are more ideal for travel, and usually have one button push functionality.

Just keep these three questions in mind when buying a food dehydrator, and you’ll end up happier with the result.